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News from the NewFronts

Every year, marketers eagerly anticipate the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) NewFronts event, which unites thousands of brands, agencies and media buyers at the world’s largest digital-content marketplace. This year’s hybrid showcase, held from May 2-5 at various New York City venues and virtually at, gave buyers a first look at the latest digital content being released by the largest names in media and entertainment. The 2022 event theme is “Stream On,” a nod to consumers’ desire for digital video programming available at the touch of a button. Here’s what else you need to know.

Participants and Prep
This year marked NewFront’s first return to an in-person format since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We’ve had two years of really, really exceptional virtual presentations,” said IAB CEO David Cohen. “We’re obviously super excited about the NewFronts coming back in person.” Presenting participants included Amazon, Vizio, Tubi, Roku, Nielsen, NBCUniversal, Disney and Peacock, among other companies. Social media giants like Meta, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter were in attendance. Much of the talk centered on streaming, including the uniting of traditional TV and streaming platforms. “As the media world continues its rapid digital intensification, the opportunities afforded by ad-supported streaming will invariably become richer and more satisfying for consumers and marketers alike,” said Cohen. Other important conversations focused on influencers and the creator economy, along with the ongoing need for brands to invest in more diverse media channels.

Numbers of Note
When it comes to advertising dollars spent, digital video surged by 49 percent last year and is expected to increase another 26 percent to over $49 billion in 2022, according to IAB’s “2021 Video Ad Spend and 2022 Outlook” report. This report also found that connected TV (CTV) ad spending shot up by 57 percent in 2021 to over $15 billion and should hit $21.2 billion by end of year. What’s more, 76 percent of video buyers called CTV a “must buy” for their media budgets. “Digital video is a driving force for buyers and will continue to be in 2022,” said Eric John, VP at IAB Media Center. “However, while CTV leads the substantial growth of digital video ad spend, the amount of dollars currently allocated to CTV is not proportionate to the amount of viewer time spent with the channel. The time is now for brands and buyers to follow consumer attention.” Among CTV’s attractions are its effectiveness at delivering brand perception, and ability to provide more transparency into where ads run.

Along those same lines, a late-April survey by Advertiser Perceptions and The Trade Desk found that advertisers plan to bump up their CTV commitments during this year’s upfronts. Buyers said they’d dedicate an average of 53 percent of their upfront budgets to CTV. “As advertisers think about their upfront commitments this year, they’ve realized that streaming is integral to their commitments with major networks,” said Ashutosh Gangwar, general manager at The Trade Desk. “The reasons are clear. Some consumers have cut the cord and are not watching on linear. Streaming is the only way to reach these younger, desirable demos in a premium video environment.”

Powerful Platforms
YouTube collaborated with consulting firm Medialink to deliver a NewFronts presentation focused on working with creators, such as developing long-term relationships and focusing on segmentation and targeting so creator content may sync with the intended audience’s values. “Knowing who you want to work with, and trusting them and letting them drive the car and get it right within clear briefs is really critical,” said Sophie Kelly, SVP of the North America whiskeys portfolio at Diageo. YouTube also announced plans to pair with Paramount for a livestream of the highly anticipated movie, Top Gun: Maverick during its May 24 premiere.

Amazon used its NewFronts time to tell advertisers about its new portfolio of streaming services. At an event hosted by actress Amy Poehler, the tech giant unveiled Amazon Freevee (previously known as IMDb TV), an ad-supported video streaming platform boasting over 75 channels, a slate of original series and a selection of films like Deadpool and Murder on the Orient Express provided via a short-term licensing agreement with Disney. This fall, Amazon will also hold exclusive rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games streaming on Twitch and Prime Video.

Always an exciting time for members of the media industry, this year’s IAB NewFronts touched on what consumers care about today in terms of tech and content—and where the future of media ad spend may be headed. See you next year!